When I was a child, my first music lesson began with a lecture...
My piano teacher told me that (next to the violin) the piano was the most difficult of all the musical instruments to learn.
Other so-called “knowledgeable” adults at that time seemed to confirm the idea that it would take me years of practicing and studying music to get any good at it.
To this notion I would merely say, that if you ultimately see yourself playing sold out concerts at Carnegie Hall, then yes, (as the old saying goes) ... practice, practice, practice is the way to get there (along with some serious training in musical theory).
But let’s face it, how many of us really care to become concert pianists?
I sure didn’t, and I’m pretty sure the vast majority of us just want to be able to sit down at home in front of our own piano, relax, and play beautiful music ... period.
No MBA degree required, and you don’t need to know what a “mixolydian scale” is or a “diminished C7 chord” is before you actually start touching the piano keys.
Now, I’m not saying you won’t need to practice or engage in at least some musical studies. Any skill worth developing will take some time and effort.
I recommend you practice a piano lesson each day for at least 20 minutes to see consistent results.
And if you’re like me when I first started (I doubt it) you’ll even squeeze in a few 3 or 4-hour sessions from time to time.
But that’s when I was a young passionate teenager with no other responsibilities to tend to. :D
How My Piano Lesson Story Began
I still remember the day I first sat down in front of a real acoustic piano for my very first piano lesson. At the tender age of just 8 years old I could barely see over the piano keyboard.
But I was SO excited!
I wanted to dive right into those black n’ whites and belt out a crazy boogie-woogie tune on the spot! Or I wanted to jump right in and compose my first melodic power ballad!
But what did I get? ... “G clef, diatonic scales, whole steps, half steps”... the occasional wrap on the knuckles! ... and the dreaded: “Every, Good, Boy, Does, Fine!”
Whoa! ... and all I wanted to do was play not join the marines.
Whether you’ve already had a piano lesson or two, or have only just “dabbled” at piano off and on, you can probably relate to the experience I’m describing.
It’s the general idea most piano teachers have in their heads that it will take many years of intense training and studying to become good at playing the piano.
Most piano lesson courses are designed with that very consensus in mind. Well I can tell you from my own experience, thankfully it’s not true.
But first, I must confess that although I began my first piano lesson at age 8, I was so discouraged by all the technical stuff being forced down my throat that I really didn’t grasp a love for the piano until I was about fourteen.
That’s when I finally had more independence and control over how I pursued my piano lesson studies.
I suspect many young or beginning piano students experience this same thing. That’s probably why piano lesson programs fail just as often as diet programs.
Luckily for me, my elementary school had a pretty decent music curriculum. So I was still exposed to music and was able to continue learning it through violin and guitar classes. That’s when I got really good at note reading.
My Band Years
It wasn’t until my first year of high school that my piano lesson story truly took off! I got my first 49-note Casio keyboard for Christmas during my H.S. freshman year.
In just a matter of a few weeks I was already playing my favorite songs from the radio relatively well. By the time I was 16, I was good enough to play in high school bands and talent shows.
Heck, later for Carnegie Hall! ... this was good enough for me. *
It gave me a chance to meet and collaborate with a lot of other musically inclined teens like myself and we’d jam for hours after school!
We would all teach each other something new. They’d ask me to show them a piano lesson or two, and pretty soon I was learning guitar, drums and bass from them!
Now I will admit that my drumming stunk like something awful, but I actually became a half-decent guitar player too.
(Although piano was always where my heart is)
That’s me back in the day (not a very flattering picture), reading an issue of “Guitar School” and trying to brush up on some techniques before band practice.
The absolute best feeling in the world was when we’d all perform in front of a live audience! That was always such a thrill during my high school and early college years.
My band mates in this photo include: Vladimir on drums, Ronnie on bass, Rondell on vocals, and “Yours Truly” struggling to play that dang’ guitar!
My friend, Phil (amazing guitar player) loaned me his guitar for this performance. Thanks Phil!
I remember there would always be a gnawing sensation in my gut just before our “act” was announced. My fingers would be so cold and trembling with anticipation, almost to the point where I didn’t think they would even function.
Keep in mind, we were performing in front of a bunch of loud and rowdy youths. So there was a lot of pressure not to mess up! Especially if we were competing against another act orthere was a prize to be won.
But our performances were always tight. When we rocked the house, the audience cheered, chanted and stomped their feet! We really felt like rock stars up there on that stage! Itwas great.
These were some of the best years of my life, and it made me realize how much I enjoyed playing in front of people.
I’m glad to still have some photos of these experiences. But best of all, I also have the audio recordings of some of these very memorable performances! So, stay tuned...
As soon as I work out the technical part, I’ll be posting some pretty cool audio clips up here too. Including a totally smashing performance of myself (on piano keyboard), Renee (on vocals) andVladimir (on drums) doing (what turned out to be) an inner-city rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”!
The funny thing about this performance is that everything was going fine, until the drummer (Vladimir) went totally NUTS during the guitar solo, and somehow turned “Stairway to Heaven” into a hip-hop song!
Sounds crazy, right? Well it happened. So like I said, staytuned!
Performing in front of an audience of screaming youths was always pretty exhilarating. But it wasn’t until I had the unexpected pleasure of playing for a much older demographic that I realized how powerful an effect music can have on people.
But first... I hope you’ll take a moment and watch my special piano tribute to:
Michael Joseph Jackson 1958 – 2009
On June 25, 2009... the world lost something irreplaceable... a super-talented singer, songwriter, dancer and innovator, who despite being known as the “King of Pop”, was more comfortable being thought of as an “Instrument of Nature”.
He was as he still is and always will be a major source of delight and inspiration for countless fans, musicians, singers and dancers all around the world.
*I mean... there would be no Usher today if there was no Michael Jackson!
There would be no Justin Timberlake today if there were never a Michael Jackson!
A thousand years from now ... I don’t believe there’ll ever be another Michael Jackson*
Michael was truly “Nature’s Delight”.... and as for me... he was the first musical voice I ever heard that made me wanna stop and learn more about music.
Of course there were lots of great tunes floating around when I was a child. But nothing really sparked my desire for music until I heard “I Want You Back” on the radio one day... and it wasn’t long after that until I received my first piano lesson*
So let me show you how Michael Jackson helped me get started on my own Musical Journey...
Thanks for watching!
Please let me know your thoughts and comments!
**P.S. ... I just wanna say... if there were any Viagra users watching this video... don’t worry... the screen is SUPPOSED to turn blue!